Offshore energies trade union, Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) warns that policy recommendations presented by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to parliament could cause a national energy crisis in the UK.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released its annual progress report to Parliament yesterday, finding that the government’s plans to reach net zero by 2050 are “not ambitious enough” and “lack detail” in key areas.
Among several concerns, the report calls out recent developments in fossil fuels, accusing the UK government of “backtracking on fossil fuel commitments” specifically new oil & gas licensing, which it says sends a very concerning signal of the Government’s priorities.
A recommendation from the report calls for the UK to ‘commit to phasing out inefficient production subsidies for fossil fuels that lock-in financial resources towards oil and gas extraction’ by Q1, 2024.
However, the report’s findings have been met with criticism from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which represents 400 companies with an interest in offshore oil, gas, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and offshore wind. In a press release, OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse said that the CCC’s proposals for achieving net zero would put the UK at increased risk of a new energy crisis.
Whitehouse argued that the “report’s findings are paradoxical”. He goes on to say that “On the one hand, it warns that the UK is being far too slow at building the infrastructure vital for generating low carbon electricity. That clearly means we will need other sources of energy to support the nation while we build those new wind farms, solar farms and nuclear power stations.
“But the same report also supports a ban on exploring UK waters for new sources of gas and oil, so depriving the UK of that resource too. There are 283 oil and gas fields in UK waters, but many are ageing and 180 will be shut down by 2030. If we don’t replace them, the UK will become up to 80% reliant on imports by the late 2020s. We need new fields just to maintain production and so minimise imports.”
According to Whitehouse, the policies put forward by the CCC put the UK at risk of “creating its own home-grown energy crisis” which would hit home from around 2028.
Whitehouse says that while OEUK supports the CCC’s ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the UK needs to achieve those targets “without destabilising its energy security and economy”.
“We fully support the CCC’s ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and the UK policy on reaching net zero by 2050, but we need to achieve those targets without destabilising the UK’s energy security and economy,” he said.
Earlier this month, Shell, a member of OEUK, made a significant strategic shift by changing plans put in place by former CEO Ben van Beurden. The company originally planned to reduce traditional fuels by 55% before 2030, however an updated strategy instead looks to stabilise production until 2030.
Wael Sawan, who took over as CEO in September, commented on this change by stating, “We are investing to provide the secure energy customers need today and for a long time to come, while transforming Shell to win in a low-carbon future.”
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